One of my life messages is SDWSC (She Did What She Could) from Mark 14:8 where Jesus said of Mary of Bethany's anointing of him, "She has done a beautiful thing ... She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body to prepare for my burial." Mary acted in a moment that would never be repeated and demonstrated her love for and belief in Jesus when he could receive it. I love that Jesus didn't compliment Mary saying she did all she could - telling us to do all as well - but rather he said she did what she could. One thing.
There's another sentence in this passage (verse 7) that's echoing through me today: "The poor you will always have with you and you can help them anytime you want."
Jesus was answering the room's objections to Mary's lavish gesture, anointing him with expensive perfume rather than giving money to the poor.
Know what I'm realizing? I've had this gorky little thought for just about ALWAYS when I read that verse. It's as if I thought Jesus was saying, "Oh, the poor - yeah, we'll always have poor people. Get used to it."
Until I focused on the last part of verse 7: "... and you can help them anytime you want."
Do I want? Do you?
Seems like Jesus took action, both for meeting physical needs and spiritual needs, as he went about healing and teaching.
So when, two weeks ago, I was invited to attend the ONE Faith Forum, I again sensed the question, "Do I want to help the poor?" Actually, I was invited to help convene the ONE Faith Forum. It was a long-prayed for invitation and reality.
What's ONE? What's a Faith Forum?
Let me pause for some background... (And please don't stop reading. This isn't going where you might think it's going.)
ONE.org is a nonpartisan advocacy group with the goal of eradicating disease and extreme poverty in Africa where the HIV/AIDS epidemic began, killing millions, where moms and babies die in childbirth, where malaria, tuberculosis and now Ebola devour families and where poverty wipes out hope. Bono, of U2, started the organization a decade ago.
Five years ago ONE invited me and nine other "mom bloggers," to Kenya to see the investment of our global aid dollars on the ground. I went. I blogged. Some of you came along with me as we reached out to some ten million moms together and we "ONE Moms" were tagged as ABC's "Person of the Week." (See the video link below.)
After the trip, as I connected with my friends of faith, I received LOTS of questions:
Isn't ONE super liberal?
Nope. It's nonpartisan. It works for the good of needy people, finding support on both sides of the "aisle" in Washington DC.
Isn't the U.S. already "over-spending" in foreign aid?
Well I don't think so. America spends less than one percent of its budget on foreign aid.
Shouldn't Christians put their efforts and attention elsewhere - like saving souls?
Hard question. But think of it this way: How can we share Jesus with folks who are dead? Bono loves Jesus - and wants folks to know about Jesus - just as much as you and me. ONE doesn't want your money. It wants your voice to advocate that the money already committed to help on the ground actually arrives on the ground and helps. In medical, educational and economic assistance.
Such questions can hold us all back from even the smallest steps we might take to be involved in global poverty and disease. We wobble. We like stuff we understand better. Shoot, very few of my dear Facebook friends actually even click "like" when I post about ONE. Most prefer the pics of my ADORABLE grandsons. They are so much easier to "like" than HIV/AIDS work. Wink. Wink.
But wait - shouldn't followers of Jesus be front and center to help with such matters? Yes, through the church, but also through using their voices to direct funds from the richest country on the planet.
So, along with the leaders at ONE, I began to pray for a convening of faith leaders so that we might together dialogue about the barriers to our involvement. And at last, men and women spanning perspectives from Jim Daly of Focus on the Family to Jim Wallis of Sojourners showed up in DC to talk. We talked. And listened. And learned. Oh, and we prayed. It's just a beginning. There will be more forums and listening and learning as more folks within our family of faith answer the question, "Do we want to help the poor?"
Here's the thing: Our brothers and sisters in Africa and around the world need our prayers, and medicine, and Jesus. We can help the poor anytime we want. Today is a great time to choose to help. By using our voices to advocate that the global aid pledged is invested in action in Africa.
What do you say? How about we become just a little less wary, not so cynical and gobs more optimistic, hopeful and ... helpful? Because one me and one you equals more than one.
Watch Elisa on her trip to Kenya on ABC's Person of the Week video
and learn more about ONE and how you can help:
Elisa Morgan is a speaker and the author of The Beauty of Broken and She Did What She Could and the cohost of Discover the Word. You can book Elisa for your event by contacting: